Vietnam has once again affirmed the crucial role of overseas Vietnamese in the building and development of the country.
Vietnamese enjoy Tet holiday. Source: Asiatica Travel
The role of overseas Vietnamese (OV) has been reflected in various aspects regarding economics, politics, culture, and international relations over the past 16 years when Vietnam first launched its policy on the OV affairs, according to Dang Minh Khoi, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs (COVA).
The Politburo, the most powerful body of the Communist Party of Vietnam, issued Resolution 36-NQ/BCT (Resolution 36) dated March 26, 2004 on OV affairs, affirming the Vietnamese community abroad is an indivisible part of the nation.
Mr. Khoi has highlighted OV contributions to the country in the 2016-2020 period and the need of OV for the next five years and the 10-year Socio-economic Strategy 2021 – 2030.
Main approaches in Vietnam’s OV affairs
Vietnam has adopted regulations on citizenship, immigration, education, accommodation, social welfare, among others, while difficulties in legal status of Vietnamese expatriates in some areas have been gradually removed.
Cultural programs have been promoted with the aim of preserving and disseminating traditional culture through the establishment of Vietnamese cultural centers abroad and numerous festivities. Notably, teaching the Vietnamese language has been popularized while traditional religious practices are also encouraged.
Local authorities have boosted the dissemination of updated policies on OV affairs and facilitated the coverage of the country’s big events for OV reporters.
Numerous activities strengthening the nationalism and bonds with the nation have been organized domestically and abroad like Homeland Spring, Expatriates Visiting Truong Sa Islands, Summer Youth Camp, Gathering for Tet Holiday, Vietnam’s Cultural Day, Arts Programs, and National Holidays.
A lot of persuasion and facilitation has been made to those who have biased thinking, encouraging them to return to the country to visit their relatives and witness the nation’s progress.
A number of policies have been made to draw intellectual OV, mainly young people, and to tackle problems for overseas Vietnamese businesses, scientists, experts, and investors who return for research, doing business and making investment.
More individuals are welcomed to participate in the country’s important agencies and think-tanks like the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Group, the Vietnam Fatherland Front, etc.
In the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam has disseminated preventive measures and provided disaster relief to Vietnamese communities in areas of difficulties; repatriated OV and sought support of host countries for confirmed Vietnamese.
Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam and State President Nguyen Phu Trong and other leaders attend Tet holiday 2019. Photo: Xuan Que Huong
Results in past five years
Mr. Khoi emphasized that the number of OV rose 18% over the past five years from 4.5 million in 109 countries and territories in 2015 to roughly 5.3 million in 130 countries and territories.
Their role in the host countries has also improved with recognized legal status, stable residence, better integration into the society, and more engagement in politics. An estimated 500,000 or 10% of OV are experts and intellectuals. A generation of talented young Vietnamese people is recognized in spearhead sectors namely IT, telecommunications, electronics, new materials, machine engineering and biology.
More OV associations have been established, more cultural and religious activities have been organized together with the expansion of the Vietnamese teaching programs in the past five years. The Vietnamese language has been inserted into curricula at primary school in many countries.
Overseas Vietnamese have become crucial in Vietnam’s development and international integration.
Many individuals and businesses have invested in the country and boosted trade with other exporting markets. A host of multinational companies led by OV have stepped up technology transfer and provided jobs to thousands of people.
In the past five years, Vietnamese living abroad sent more than US$71 billion in remittances to the country with an average annual growth rate of 6%, largely contributing to improving the balance of payments and increasing the state foreign exchange reserves. As of October 2020, overseas Vietnamese from 27 countries and territories have invested US$1.6 billion in 362 projects in Vietnam.
“Fund for the Sea and Islands of Vietnam” has marked the donation of a large number of OV, showing their contribution to protecting national sovereignty and strengthening solidarity.
In addition, support to victims of dioxin/Agent Orange, natural disasters, and epidemics has been significant with approximate VND35 billion (US$1.5 million) and medical equipment in the Covid-19 pandemic fight, as well as VND34 billion and foods and goods to victims of floods in the central region in October.
More support expected
Mr. Khoi has also addressed challenges to the OV affairs, saying that more support should be provided to help the communities overcome difficulties caused by the global health crisis.
He emphasized that Vietnam needs to make more efforts in this area to ensure better support to the OV communities, mainly in legal status recognition, economic development and social integration into native countries, citizen protection, management of workers and students abroad, dissemination of traditional cultural values and language, contribution to the national protection, and facilitation of working conditions to overseas scientists, experts and intellectuals.